Launched towards the end of 2010, the Rs. 9,000-crore Gujarat Solar Park, set up on government wasteland in north Gujarat, has already been producing 214 MW from the sun, making it the first State to generate such capacity at a single location.

And when expanded to 5,000 acres from the present 2,669 acres, the Charanka Park, located at a village of Patan district, will generate 500 MW. This will make it Asia’s largest solar farm. In all, Gujarat’s total installed capacity is 605 MW, and projects are operational in 10 districts.

The entire solar power project would produce 30 lakh units of clean energy every day, capable of electrifying 10 lakh households, and avoid 10 lakh tonnes equivalent of carbon dioxide emissions annually, officials say.

Gujarat, which accounts for two-thirds of national solar power production, has attracted an investment of Rs. 8,000 crore. Buoyed by the success of the project, the government is looking at acquiring some more wasteland in north Gujarat’s Banaskantha district for setting up another solar park.

Meanwhile, the government has evolved a rooftop solar plant policy to enable people to produce their own power and encash it by selling the surplus to the grid.

The capital Gandhinagar, being envisioned as the country’s first model solar city, already has solar rooftop systems ranging from 1 kilowatt (kW) to 150 kW at more than 150 locations, aggregating a capacity of 1.39 MW. This covers a total of two acres of rooftop area, providing 1 per cent of the total energy consumption in the capital. Also, the new building of the Gujarat Pollution Control Board is completely powered by solar energy.

The State government recently floated a 5-MW rooftop programme on the public-private-partnership model in the capital, and that is now being extended to five more cities and towns.

(darshan207@gmail.com)

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